Basin Electric's load forecasters are crystal ball experts

The new year is an opportunity to look ahead, but for Basin Electric’s long-term load forecast team, they take a much farther look.

Robert Frank, load forecast analyst, and Jay Lundstrom, lead load forecast analyst, are responsible for the load forecasting for Basin Electric’s membership. The load forecast is the main tool used for power supply planning, financial forecasting, rate planning, and transmission planning. The forecasting is done on an annual basis but gives a long-term view of 30 years ahead so members know the anticipated energy needs and requirements for planning purposes.

“The advantage to looking further down the road is that you can make slight adjustments. You can’t do that when you’re staring at the side of the road. It’s easier to steer the ship looking out that far,” says Lundstrom.

Jay Lundstrom, Basin Electric lead load forecast analyst.

What used to take four people two years to produce now takes Frank and Lundstrom eight to ten months, thanks to updated technology and developed efficiencies. Their approach has greatly increased accuracy, and working as a team ensures that each co-op is given the attention it deserves. The work is divided up evenly between Frank and Lundstrom, although just glancing, it may not appear that way.

“Robert does the forecast process for about 90% of the members, and I take care of the other 10%,” says Lundstrom. “But 90% of my job is focused on taking care of that 10% of the co-ops.”

“Things move a little faster in some co-ops than others because some are more impacted by certain industries. Jay works with members who need more of an industry look,” says Frank. “The same amount of effort goes into each forecast, but some need more finesse.”

Robert Frank, Basin Electric load forecast analyst.

A large portion of load forecasting involves data collection. Frank has a background in statistics and Lundstrom in mathematics, so both enjoy “detective work” and deciphering information.

“Statistics can be used incorrectly, and often times they are,” says Frank. “Sometimes the information we find is just a snapshot of the story, and we need way more context. So Jay and I pull back and look for more data points to determine how things actually might play out.”

Read about how Frank and Lundstrom partner with the membership and how this year's forecast was done differently in the winter issue of Basin Today: A day in the life of Load Forecast Analysts

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